It was supposed to be a celebratory night -- and it was-- but Ad Age's Women to Watch event in London Monday evening was also tinged with sadness, coming less than 48 hours after the brutal terrorist attack that left eight dead and 48 injured just a few miles away.
The 14 honorees who planned to attend all turned up to claim their awards as scheduled at the Savoy Hotel on June 5, but in many cases their acceptance speeches did not go as originally written, and were recast to reflect the stunning turn of events. Many were eloquent, galvanizing their fellow Women to Watch into action to fight injustice and violence in the world.
None was quite so stirring as the BETC Co-President Bertille Toledano, who delivered a passionate and intensely personal speech that drew thunderous applause.
Another very personal address came from Shelina Janmohamed, a Woman to Watch and VP at Ogilvy Noor, who runs the agency's Islamic branding and marketing consultancy. She is also the author of the book "Love in a Headscarf" and is widely regarded an expert in reaching "Generation M," the millennial population among the world's 1.6 million Muslims.
Rather than dim the theme of women empowerment and inclusion, the attacks seemed to heighten it. as speaker after speaker underscored the importance of female solidarity and events like Women to Watch. Michele Oliver VP-marketing at Mars Chocolate U.K., who was being honored in part of her work for ads that showed people with disabilities telling funny stories of their life, said as much in her well-received acceptance speech.